BY rights, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) should be in semi-retirement, performing classics like Enola Gay and Maid Of Orleans on the nostalgia festival circuit like so many of their peers.

Instead, they’ve created a landmark album worthy of their finest work. Having made one of their most universally acclaimed albums last time out, when 2017’s The Punishment Of Luxury returned Wirral duo, Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, to the Top Five for the first time since 1991’s Sugar Tax, the duo have somehow managed to better it with this year's Bauhaus Staircase reaching number two in the UK charts, becoming the group's highest-charting studio album in their home country, and matching the peak of 1988's The Best of OMD.

"Had Taylor Swift not released an album that week we would have been number one," laughed Andy. "But no one beats Taylor Swift so I accept that and take it on the chin!

"It's been part of a broader picture of success with the Bauhaus Staircase album which has all been incredibly positive - the reviews, the feedback, the reception from our fans has been stunning and it's quite remarkable that after 45 years people have been saying that far from going off the boil we've made possibly the best album we've ever made."

Across February and March this year, the band will play 22 dates across the UK and Ireland, including their biggest ever London headline show at London’s O2 Arena on March 24 and a hometown gig at Liverpool's M&S Bank Arena on Sunday, March 3. 

"We're being quite daring on this tour and playing quite a lot of the new album live and it fits seamlessly with all the hits," said Andy, who still lives in Wirral.

"We've been doing something right for the last few years and I don't want to over-analyse it but the band is growing and it's nice to be able to do some larger venues. The arena in Liverpool isn't too big - even when you're at the back you still feel part of the concert and I'm really looking forward to that.

 "I think the O2 in London can fit about 16,000 but that's just too big - it's like going to a football match - so we're having it specially configured and we're going as big as we feel comfortable with and getting a sense of personality across on stage and creating a vibe."

OMD have sold an astonishing 25m singles and 15m albums, which established them as electronic synthesiser pioneers and one of Britain’s best-loved pop groups. But for all their success in the 1980s, Andy admits there is something different about this late career renaissance. 

"What I find now is I'm less nervous," he said. "I used to get really bad stage fright and I was a bundle of nerves. I've definitely relaxed - I've always prided myself on being relative intelligent and logical so I don't know why it took so long for the penny to drop and think 'Andrew - if people have bought a ticket to see you, they probably already like the music and you don't have to fight them'.

"The important thing is you don't sit back and enjoy it too much because you still need to go out there with adrenalin in order to put on a serious concert with energy and enthusiasm.

"We would never dream of just dialling it in. We've already done 18 concerts in Europe and they were fantastic - the response from the audience was intense so we'll be looking to generate that again when we're back in the UK. We absolutely feed off the energy of the audience - it's a positive cycle and if you pour the energy out into the venue the audience feed off it and give you the love back and you feed off that and the whole thing just grows."

Sharing a distaste for guitar-driven rock with a macho attitude popular among their friends at the time in the late 70s, OMD instead discovered their electronic style, inspired by German band Kraftwerk.

"When we first started we wanted to avoid several clichés and wanted to do things differently, said Andy. "What I've found as I've got older is that actually audiences like being told what to do. They like to be told to clap or wave and shout so I will admit to indulging in a few rock poses on stage!"

Andy, 64, and fellow band member Paul Humphreys, 63, met at primary school in Meols in the early 1960s and have been working together on and off ever since. 

He said: "To be honest, the dynamic has changed quite considerably in the last few years because Paul finally achieved his dream of moving to live in the Mediterranean climate and managed to get himself locked down in the South of France so the writing of the last album was a bit tricky. 

"We weren't able to be in the same room and he was busy moving house and also becoming a father again at the age of 61 so he had developed alternative priorities which I completely understand. 

"After I turned 60 I did fully intend to spend a bit more time smelling the roses I'd planted along my journey through my life. Then Covid came along and I found myself with nothing else to do other than sit in my programming room so I started delving into my computer to see what interesting ideas I had in there which had never been finished some of which had been given to me by Paul.

"The bottom line is quite simple - Paul is a genius and I love being able to work with him. The wonderful thing is because I'm a control freak and he's quite generous he's happy to give me his ideas enabling me to make my own vision out of them. I get to work with two people's ideas and I have been blessed to work with him. After meeting each other aged seven-years-old at Meols County Primary School we're still working together!"

Despite the obvious success of their partnership, Andy has hinted Bauhaus Staircase could be OMD's last album.

"We did say it might be our last one because I'm not sure I can will myself to sit in my room for several months and mine my head and my heart for another quality album. We certainly wouldn't put out an album unless we thought it was top quality.

"We like touring and there are some other things we might do. I have a few ideas up my sleeve that are not full blown OMD albums. I'm sure the muse will be upon me but I'm not sure I want to do a whole album because I wouldn't want to do one unless it was absolutely amazing and it takes time to do amazing. I know that sounds very egotistical but if you give yourself enough time you should be able to produce a really good collection of songs.

"For some reason as people get older they seem to lose the ability to have self quality control. It's why a lot of people go 'do I need another album by so and so because I've already got ten'. The answer to that is probably 'no'.

"Paul always asks 'why do you make this album? Is it because you had 12 great ideas or is it because you want a new logo for the tour T-shirt?' 

"It's a dangerous thing to do unless you know you have quality music," added Andy.  "The nice thing for us is we can do what we feel like these days. We go out and play Let's Rock and Rewind and all the retro festivals and we'll play hit singles for an hour and it's crash, bang, wallop or we can play with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra or do art instillations or we can make new albums. 

"Having released four very well received albums since we reformed has contemporised us and we're not just a heritage act."



Fri 1st Manchester, O2 Apollo SOLD OUT

Sat 2nd Manchester, O2 Apollo

Sun 3rd Liverpool, M&S Bank Arena

Tue 5th Leeds, First Direct Arena

Wed 6th Edinburgh, Usher Hall SOLD OUT

Fri 8th Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall SOLD OUT

Sat 9th Newcastle, O2 City Hall SOLD OUT

Sun 10th Sheffield, City Hall SOLD OUT

Tue 12th Leicester, De Montfort Hall SOLD OUT

Wed 13th Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall SOLD OUT

Fri 15th Wolverhampton, Civic Hall

Sat 16th Swansea, Arena

Sun 17th Southend-On-Sea, Cliffs Pavillion

Tue 19th Bristol, Beacon SOLD OUT

Wed 20th Oxford, New Theater SOLD OUT

Fri 22nd Portsmouth, Guildhall SOLD OUT

Sat 23rd Ipswich, Regent Theatre SOLD OUT

Sun 24th London, The O2*

Tue 26th Brighton, Dome SOLD OUT

Wed 27th Eastbourne, Winter Gardens SOLD OUT